But sometimes things smell good too. But our ability to smell deteriorates over the years, sometimes as early as age 30. By age 60, about half of us will experience a reduction in our ability to smell, and by age 80, about three-fourths of us will.

A bad cold can knock out your ability to smell–maybe even forever. From 3 to 4 million Americans have been diagnosed with anosmia, the complete inability to smell, and hyposmia, a reduced smelling capacity.

And if you can’t smell, you can’t TASTE well either. In the February 13th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Ellen Byron quotes smell researcher Richard Doty as saying, "When we chew and swallow, volatile molecules from the food go through the rear of the nasal cavity to the olfactory receptors in the roof of the nose. If you hold your nose and put chocolate in your mouth, you won’t taste the chocolate."

(If you’ve been smelling–and EATING–TOO MUCH chocolate, get Anne Strieber’s famous diet book with its special chapter on "Sweets").

But we can exercise our noses in order to gain some of that olfactory ability back again. Byron quotes smell researcher Alan Hirsch as saying, "Someone who is colorblind can look at red and green all day but never see it, but with smell, you can actually cause nerve connections to act, and smell what perhaps you couldn’t before.

Close your eyes and taste a little vanilla and chocolate ice cream. If you can’t taste the difference, you may have a problem. Or hold a pad soaked in rubbing alcohol just beyond your chin. If you can smell it, your sense of smell is probably fine."

Byron quotes flavor expert Ron Winnegrad as saying, "If you’re drinking a cup of coffee or tea, actually smell it before you drink it, and when eating food, smell it first. If you do this on a regular basis, you will increase your sense of smell."

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